We are in prime freshman season people...
Photo Via - XXL Mag
and with that being said it is time once again to take a look at the XXL freshman class over the years. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, making the XXL freshman class is a true honor and can really propel an artist's career. Starting back in 2007, the XXL freshman class has seen the likes of J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Chance the Rapper. Those are some of the greatest rappers today and this year new up and comers look to make their names heard. Let’s examine each class and determine who was the best rapper out of each class.
Reminder: I will be determining who is the best by only two elements, talent and success. If you don’t agree with my picks then kindly tweet me your opinions! (@RePete617)
2007 Best Freshman: Lupe Fiasco
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Not a lot of people remember the very first XXL freshman class but it included some well known names including Piles, Lil Boosie, and Gorilla Zoe. The one guy who remained constant throughout the years was Lupe Fiasco. Lupe most recently released an album named “DROGAS Light” and while it wasn’t one of the best Lupe albums, it certainly was better than what most of the other guys in this class put out. “Lasers” out does a lot of what these other guys did as well. "Lasers" is legendary with songs like “Words I Never Said”, “Letting Go” and of course the most famous song “The Show Goes On”. Lupe’s lyrics on that album are pure fire and they touch on a lot of deep stuff. Lupe has remained successful over the course of ten years without falling off but today you don’t really hear from any of the other rappers that made the 2007 class.
2009 Best Freshman: Kid Cudi
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This was a hard decision because the runner ups were Wale and Ace Hood but Kid Cudi beats them out as the best rapper from the 2009 class. B.O.B made this class as well but he hasn’t really put out anything good since around 2013. Wale is a really good rapper but isn’t a better lyricist than Cudi. Ace Hood is also a very talented lyricist but also hasn’t put out any well known albums in a few years. Cudi dropped his long awaited album “Passion, Pain & Demon Slaying” last year and it was a hit. Of course, he also has his classic throwbacks like “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Day and Night” which are some of the best songs of the last decade. Cudi’s features are also better than most of this class features as well and his career is well chronicled in his music.
2010 Best Freshman: J. Cole
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With no disrespect to Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean, J. Cole was the best freshman from this class by far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of both Wiz and Sean but we consider J. Cole to be one of the best rappers of all time and it is with good reason. Whenever he puts out an album it is automatically a classic. His bars are about wisdom and everything that goes on in a person’s mind is manifested into lyrics that prove J. Cole is one of the best lyricists ever. All of his albums are certified platinum which even furthers the fact that Cole is one of the best rappers we have ever seen.
2011 Best Freshman: Kendrick Lamar
Photo Via - MTV
This was an easy pick. This freshman class actually had some well known names and for the most part was a pretty stacked class. Meek Mill, Mac Miller, YG, Lil B, and Big K.R.I.T are just a few names on this class but the crown goes to Kendrick Lamar for pretty obvious reasons. Kung Fu Kenny has been called the 2Pac of this generation and when you have that comparison, you know you will become of the best all time. His albums are all better than pretty much the entire classes discography and that point was further proven with the release of “DAMN” this year. Again, no disrespect to anyone in this class but K-Dot is by far the best rapper to come out of the 2011 class.
2012 Best Freshman: Future
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Now there weren’t many good lyricists in this class but that doesn’t matter because most rappers made absolute bangers. Every album Future creates is mostly bangers galore. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt when I first heard classics like “Mask Off”, “Thought It Was A Drought”, or “Jumpman”. You just know off the bat these songs are bangers and will be classics for years to come. What separates Future from the rest of the rappers in this class was his ability to make an R&B album while also making trap music. “HNDRXX” was an absolute classic, honestly it was one of the best albums to come out this year. It was a side of Future we haven’t seen before but wouldn’t mind getting again. Future will go down in history as one of the best rappers of this generation.
2013 Best Freshman: Travis Scott
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This was a tough choice because the 2013 class was the most stacked class ever. Along with Travis Scott, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Chief Keef, Ab-Soul, and Action Bronson. The decision to go with Travis Scott was because he has the most mainstream success and is one of the hottest rappers out right now. His albums have developed cult like followings based on the sales and fans often have a different type of attitude when Travis is in the house. “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” was one of the best albums of last year with hits such as “goosebumps” “through the late night”, and “biebs in the trap”. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Travis Scott’s momentum will ride on with no end in sight.
2014 Best Freshman: Chance the Rapper
Photo Via - Hip Hop DX
Another class where the best rapper is pretty obvious, Chance the Rapper was the best rapper of 2016. He basically owned 2016 and that is surprising considering he was going up against some good competition for album of the year at the Grammys. The fans can get behind Chance because one, his mixtapes are legendary and two, he just has a natural connection with his fanbase. The fact that Chance accomplished so much without being signed speaks volume to the type of artist he is. Coloring Book had hits like “Mixtape”, “Juke Jam”, “No Problem”, and “Smoke Break." Overall, that album outdoes whatever work anyone from this class has put out. Chance keeps rising to legendary status and he won’t stop until he is considered the greatest rapper of all time.
2015 Best Freshman: Shy Glizzy
Photo Via - Karen Civil
The 2015 edition of the XXL freshman was probably the weakest of all time. I’m not even going to consider Fetty Wap being the best because his music is just weak. You can barely understand anything he is saying and his beats make all his songs better. This was proven in the freshman cypher and freestyles where you literally cannot understand a word he’s saying. Shy Glizzy was the best freshman out of this class because his music is more complete than others. He has the best flow and the way it perfectly goes with his beats. “Young Jefe” was a great album and the same goes for “Law 3”. I would like to see Glizzy get more in the mainstream because he is a severely underrated rapper.
2016 Best Freshman: Lil Uzi Vert
Photo Via - Kanyetothe
Now when you take a look at this class, the talent may not be all there but this is one of the most revolutionary classes in history. Really all of the artists who were a part of this class went on to find more success than expected. This class really elevated all the rappers to superstardom. Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Desiigner, G Herbo, Kodak Black, and Dave East all thrived off being included in the class and basically all of them went on to collab with some of the hottest names in hip hop which in turn made THEM some of the hottest rappers in hip hop. But the one who stood out the most was Lil Uzi Vert. His different approach to rap propelled him to rock star levels of stardom. His fans are some of the most rowdiest in rap and his music has a different flow to it that is both likeable and vibe worthy. XO Tour Llif3 has quickly become a hot track and it’s still climbing the charts. Lil Uzi Vert is really a special talent out of a very special class.
Who will be the best rapper of the 2017 class? We will just have to wait and see!